How to plan a trip to Hong Kong
Everything you need to know about Hong Kong if you’re traveling on your own. During your trip, we’ve gathered practical information and are sharing it with you. Ticket prices, food, hotels, transportation, visas, and attractions in 2022. Plus our tips and tourist reviews. Bonus – addresses of inexpensive cafes. All the essentials in one place!
Hong Kong is still closed to tourists from Russia. You can check official websites for up to date information about flights and visas because of the pandemic. View the list of open countries.
Exchange rate: 1 Hong Kong dollar (HKD) ≈ 10 RUB.
Flights to Hong Kong
The cheapest way to Hong Kong is from Vladivostok – round trip tickets cost from 16,500 rubles (direct flight by S7). The second place is taken by Irkutsk and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, with tickets starting from 23,500 rubles. A flight from Moscow will cost 26 thousand rubles and more, from St. Petersburg – from 30.5 thousand rubles, from Novosibirsk – from 30 thousand.
Where to look for cheap tickets? Use Aviasails. Check tickets for different dates – so you’ll find the best price. Read also tips on how to find cheap airline tickets.
Visas for Hong Kong
Do I need a visa to Hong Kong for Russians? No, not if the trip lasts no longer than 14 days . The purpose of your visit must be for tourism, meeting with friends / relatives, transit or a business visit (but making a profit during the trip is prohibited).
For a longer trip to Hong Kong a visa must be obtained. You can do this in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. Also, citizens of Ukraine and Kazakhstan do not need a visa for 2 weeks, but Belarusians need to draw up it.
The documents required for a visa: an application form in English (you can download it on the website of the Embassy); 1 photo 3×4 for the form, passport, valid for another 6 months after the end of the trip. If you are coming to Hong Kong through another country where a visa is required, you must also present it.
Hong Kong visas cost $30. Don’t forget to fill in an English migration card before you enter – you can usually get one on the plane.
There are more than 8,000 high-rise buildings in Hong Kong, with 1,300 skyscrapers. 250 of them are more than 150 meters high. (Photo: unsplash.com / @bady)
Hong Kong’s Transport
Hong Kong’s extensive public transport network features a host of bus routes, a metro, rare double-decker streetcars, ferries and, of course, cabs. The latter are expensive: red cars cost 22 HKD for the first two kilometers, and then 6 HKD for each additional 200 meters.
In general, you can not even use a cab in the city, because there is a convenient and not very expensive subway. In the subway a single ticket costs from 3.5 to 55 HKD – the price depends on the distance. Streetcars are very cheap – a ride will only cost HKD 2.5. The same is true for ferries (e.g. Star Ferry) – tickets range from HKD 2 to HKD 3.4.
Red cabs in Hong Kong (Photo: unsplash.com / @imchenyf)
Note: for trips you should always have change, because often the change is not issued, and it is worth remembering. This is not very convenient if you plan to stay in the city for more than 2-3 days, so such travelers in their reviews tourists recommend buying an electronic card Octopus. Its cost is 150 HKD, of which 100 on the balance (it can be recharged), and 50 – a refundable deposit (the rest of the card can also be returned), plus a 9 HKD deducted for usage. You can pay for all modes of transport, even some cabs, and you can also pay in certain stores and get discounts. Thus, it allows you to save money. Learn more about the Octopus card.
We recommend you thoroughly study the metro map and download a map of the city to your phone before you travel to Hong Kong on your own. Some tourists have complained that GPS doesn’t work very well – we were convinced of that ourselves. The subway is open from 6am to 1am.
Buses in Hong Kong are mostly double-decker buses, and there are often long lines at bus and streetcar stops during rush hour. All bus stops are equipped with stands with timetables and fares.
Hong Kong has not only double-decker buses but also streetcars. There are only 3 cities in the world where they still exist – more Alexandria and Blackpool (Photo: unsplash.com / @popnzebra)
Hotels in Hong Kong
Don’t expect to find cheap hotels in Hong Kong for under $28 for a tiny double room. So you’ll just have to live with it. What do you need to keep in mind when choosing a hotel? Firstly, that real estate here is expensive and its area is modest (but all conditions are usually in the room). Secondly, we recommend searching for hotels in Rumguru a month or two in advance – there is a good chance that you will “catch” a good discount for a star hotel.
Hotels are cheaper on the Kowloon Peninsula, but on Hong Kong Island they are many times more expensive. If you’re travelling as a family or in a group, you can save on accommodation by booking an apartment or apartment.
A night-time view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak, the city’s highest point (Photo: Daxis / flickr.com)
Food in Hong Kong: What to try.
“The Culinary Capital of the World, Food Fair of the World, Gourmet Paradise and other buzzwords are all about Hong Kong. Despite the rather high price tag, tourists recommend not stingy and taste the masterpieces of local cuisine.
So what are the foods and drinks worth sampling in Hong Kong? There’s so much to try that you won’t be able to list it all. Here are some of the things tourists recommend in their reviews and travel reports:
- A variety of dumplings (dim sum): with shrimp (haa gau), with pork and broth inside (xiao long bao). They may not look very fancy, but they are delicious! Prices start at 13, with an average price of HKD 20-25.
- Yutiao are long strips of deep-fried dough. You can find them in Vietnam and other SEA countries.
- Sweet and savoury egg tarts (egg tarts). From 2 HKD apiece.
- fish balls.
- Gai daan jai, also available in berry, chocolate, etc. From 15 HKD.
- Congee: Rice porridge. Rice porridge has many variations and may have various additives (garlic, herbs, meat, etc.).
- “Pineapple” buns (baolaobao, Pineapple cake) – actually there are no pineapples there, but they are very tasty. It is said to resemble a pineapple in appearance.
- The dessert Sago Mix is sago, milk, and pieces of fruit. It resembles the Filipino halo halo and the Malaysian ABC and ace kachang.
- Roast goose and Peking duck.
- Rice wrapped in lotus leaves.
- Wonton Noodles.
- Deep Fried Sesame Balls.
- Milk tea.
- Tea Coffee (Inun).
- Almond milk (Almond Milk) – about 10 HKD.
Food prices are high, especially in light of the falling ruble. For example, rice and meat in a food court will cost about 30-40 HKD. But in Hong Kong you can also save money by eating at local noodle shops – read about how not to go broke on food in this article about prices in Hong Kong.
Also read how to travel to China on your own and what the prices are in China.
Temple Street Night Market (Photo: unsplash.com / @sam_beasley)
Addresses and names of Hong Kong’s budget cafes, restaurants and eateries
Experienced independent travellers know how to get a delicious, cheap meal in Hong Kong. We’ve scoured the web for locations that let you eat on budget and are happy to share them with you. You can even find Michelin-starred eateries!
- One Dim Sum – 1 Michelin star. Menu prices: 13 to 20 HKD. Address: Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 15 Playing Field Road, Prince Edward.
- Tim Ho Wan – also 1 Michelin star. Menu Prices: 12 to 22 HKD. Address: Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui. There is a large line at the entrance and you need to sign in and wait. There are two other cafes at the following addresses: G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Shum Shui Po and Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station, Central .
- The food court at Sogo Mall.
- Tourists recommend Yoshinoya, where you can get inexpensive sets (20-22 HKD).
- The popular chain Cafe de Coral.
We spent only two days in Hong Kong and we didn’t waste our time looking for the aforementioned places and waiting in queues at the entrances of Michelin restaurants. Inexpensive food is easy to find by Hong Kong standards, you just have to turn into the alleys and look into small Chinese eateries. Often they have menus in English, and you can also be guided by pictures. The vendors will often advise you on what to try.
Noodle soup with wontons (Photo: Prayitno / flickr.com)
Sightseeing in Hong Kong: What to see on your own
Find interesting tours on Tripster. Individual and group tours, without crowds of tourists and in Russian.
The first tip is not to run off and visit places of interest, but rather to take a quiet stroll around the city and immerse yourself in it. It is a sightseeing attraction in itself. Get to know the local cuisine.
The top attraction is the famous Victoria Peak, which costs a pretty penny to visit: streetcar to the mountain and back, entrance, binoculars – all this costs about 93 HKD. Tourists offer a sly trick: go up to the peak on their own, the views over the city are remarkable, and do not enter the observation deck Sky Terrace, and admire exactly the same views for free from the nearby park. You can take a bus up or down for HKD 9.8 (to/from Central Station). We got there by taking the Mid-Levels escalators first, then walking to the peak and taking the bus back. We were unlucky, because there was a dense fog that cleared only at night, and we could see the city with lights only from White Jade observation deck, where tourist buses stop. It costs about HKD 10 to get there, as it is to the peak.
Another tourist attraction is the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, in the village of Ngong Ping. Entrance to the Buddha is free, but to get to it, you have to spend money. There are several trekking trails behind the village.
What else can I see on my own in Hong Kong? Alley of Stars, Ocean Park, Po Lin Monastery, Disneyland, various museums and many, many skyscrapers.
Big Buddha on Lantau Island (Photo: Alex [ www.bytefish.com ] / flickr.com)
Although the city is considered one of the safest in the world, travelers advise to exercise some caution. In general, the advice tourists give in their reviews and trip reports to Hong Kong is standard:
- don’t wander into dark neighborhoods far from the center and the docks at night;
- Stay alert in crowds and watch your bags and pockets;
- exchange currency carefully, and check checks, bills, and receipts;
- Beware of callers and haters who promise services or goods at very low prices – you need to know the average price of goods, so as not to fall for the trap. It is a common technique to deceive tourists on Nathan Road, so it is better to go to the Mong Kok market for shopping.
Wong Tai Sin and Sham Shui Po are considered unsafe areas.
Wonkok nightlife signs (Photo: unsplash.com / @_stfeyes)
Hong Kong Travel Tips and Reviews
What do you need to know and remember as you prepare to travel to Hong Kong and go there on your own? According to tourist reviews, you should pay attention to the following points:
10 things to do in Hong Kong
Lantau Island, with its statue of the Big Buddha, is the first thing passengers on planes arriving in Hong Kong see. Before they put a 34-metre-high Buddha on top of the mountain, the island was a secluded haven for monks. Now thousands of tourists take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car up the 268-step stairs to see the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue in the open air.
2. Immerse yourself in history at the Hong Kong Museum
The Hong Kong Museum of History, just ten minutes from Tsim Sha Tsui Subway Station, offers visitors the most comprehensive insight into the history of what is now the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. While the first floor, with its collection of archaeological fossils, can be light-heartedly skipped over, the second floor fascinates and enthralls with its detailed reconstructions of the everyday lives of the Chinese tribes that inhabited Hong Kong’s islands in the Middle Ages. The third floor is dedicated to the infamous history of the Opium Wars and British colonization of Hong Kong. The fourth floor exhibit reveals the controversial recent history of Hong Kong and concludes with a newsreel of the transfer of the symbolic keys of Hong Kong by the United Kingdom’s envoy Prince Charles to the Chinese delegation. The highlight is that admission to the Historical Museum exhibition is free on Wednesdays.
3. Hop on the Star Ferry across the Channel
Launched between Kowloon and Hong Kong in the 1880s, the Star Ferry has preserved its historic form and provides a dramatic contrast to the skyscrapers that line the harbour. A ferry ride costs only HK$2.50 (about 20 rubles), one of the cheapest tourist attractions in Hong Kong.
4. Climbing Victoria Peak
All the most beautiful panoramic shots of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers from above are taken from the observation deck at Victoria Peak. At the time of colonization, the Peak was Hong Kong’s most prestigious district, home to the richest British aristocrats and negociants. Today tens of thousands of tourists stand in line for an hour and a half or two hours every day on the Peak Tram to get ten minutes to the top of the mountain, where there is a shopping and entertainment complex with The Sky Terrace observation deck. If you are time-sensitive, take bus number 15 to get to The Peak from Metro Central, and then take the funicular down, because the line is always much shorter in the opposite direction.
5. Ride the double-decker streetcar
The old double-decker streetcars, each with a unique advertising livery, have become a recognizable Hong Kong landmark. The tracks run along the north side of the island and the streetcars run most of the way in a continuous sequence at intervals of no more than a minute and a half. A ride costs HK$2.30 (about 18.5 roubles) – the streetcar can safely be called the cheapest attraction in Hong Kong. If you like a breeze ride, we recommend climbing the winding staircase to the second floor – the windows in the streetcar are always open and the speed is about 30 km/h. 6.
6. Feel the closeness of East and West on Hollywood Road.
Hollywood Road has nothing to do with the American Hollywood. Here the East and West neighbor seamlessly with the beautiful Buddhist temple Man Mo (temple of the God of war and God of literature) and the trendiest bars of SoHo, fruit markets and antique shops, souvenir alley and dizzying residential high-rises.
7. Get into the spirit of patriotism at Golden Bauhinia Square
The bauhinia flower is Hong Kong’s national symbol and is depicted on the flag and coins. The Golden Bauhinia sculpture was a gift from the Central Government on the occasion of Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997. Golden Bauhinia Square, where the changing of the guard and raising of the national flag ceremony are held daily, is the most popular attraction with tourists from mainland China who are proud of the reunification of the territories.
8. Feel like a kid at Ocean Park
Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s premier family park, ranked 33rd on Forbes’ list of the world’s most visited attractions. The park attracts crowds of tourists with the opportunity to visit a huge aquarium, to mesmerize big pandas, to ride the cable car, to test the nerves of the roller coaster, to visit the zoo of sea animals. The spectacular nature of the amusement park program justifies the huge lines at the box office and the cable car.
9. Taste fish delicacies at Jumbo Kingdom.
This floating three-storey restaurant complex, designed to resemble an ancient Chinese palace, is located in a fishing district and boasts some of the freshest seafood in Hong Kong. The only way to get to Jumbo Kingdom is by taking a special ferry. If only because Queen Elizabeth II visited it during a visit to the colony, it’s a fitting rendezvous for Hong Kong.
10. Feel like a hippie on Lamma Island
Tourists hardly see Hong Kong as a beach resort, but one of the most popular destinations for locals is Lamma Island Beach. Picked up by American and English hippies in the 1960s, the island has maintained an air of utter insouciance and freedom from the conventions of the metropolis ever since. On Lamma prohibited traffic, no houses higher than three floors, but there are dozens of miles of trails for hiking, fish restaurants and a sandy beach with all the amenities.